Students find alternate forms of Easter, Passover celebrations in southern Ill.

Dorms and apartment complexes may have seemed abandoned in Carbondale this weekend as students flocked home for Easter and Passover celebrations.

Family traditions often lure students home for holidays, but for those who could not make the trip, alternate

Easter Sunday worshippers sit on the lawn at the Bald Knob Cross of Peace. Worshippers traveled from across the region to attend the sunrise service. Robert Stillwell, 34, of Morganfield, Ky., said he has been coming to the service for the last 32 years. “You don’t get a sunrise like that at any church,” Stillwell said. Pat Sutphin | Daily Egyptian

celebration opportunities could be found in Carbondale.

Some students who wanted to observe Easter or Passover near campus celebrated at the Newman Catholic Student Center, the Hillel Foundation or many area churches and synagogues.

Amanda Warner, a graduate student in plant, soil and agricultural systems from Walterboro, S.C., said not being able to participate in her family’s traditions was a downside of staying in town.

She said this year, her parents came to visit and celebrate the holiday with her by spending time together for the first time since

Warner said saving money and vacation days from work were the biggest influences on her decision to stay in Carbondale.

“It’s not like I’m making tons of money as a graduate assistant to go home for every holiday,” she said. “I can save money more effectively by picking and choosing when I travel home.”

Christoph Karottki, a senior from Oak Park studying mechanical engineering, observed Easter by attending the Newman Catholic Student Center’s morning Mass.

Karottki said the quiet weekend was great for staying on top of academics, especially as the semester comes to a close, and for picking up extra shifts at work.

The lack of students could also be seen on the Strip. Many late night eateries were shorter staffed and several bars retracted their usual weekend cover charge.

One benefit of staying in Carbondale, even though there wasn’t anything special going on, was that it was much less crowded, said Nico Luttrell, a junior from Italy studying political science.

William and Toni Ladd, of Carterville, attend Easter service at Bald Knob Cross in Alto Pass. Toni Ladd said Sunday was their first time at the sunrise service. “We wanted to experience it,” she said, “Our kids are at home, so we thought we’d sneak out.” Steve Matzker | Daily Egyptian

Luttrell is one of many students who didn’t travel home because of the distance to Cuba, where his parents now live.

“I didn’t want to make the ‘drive’ to Cuba where my family is,” he said. “Even though I’m not very religious, I would generally celebrate with my mom if she had Easter plans.”

For some students who didn’t battle distance and costs, the choice to stay in town was influenced by camaraderie.

Greg Alper, a senior from St. Louis studying industrial design, said he celebrated Passover with the local community at the Hillel Foundation.

Alper said he chose to stay to focus on schoolwork and because it was his last Passover in Carbondale.

He said the first two nights of the celebration are usually dedicated to family and friends, so the Hillel Foundation appreciates the opportunity to share the experience with the student body and the local community.

“It’s always good to be with family for holidays,” Alper said. “But an important part of Passover, or any holiday, is just being able to share it with everyone. Being able to bring people from different families and backgrounds together to be a part of celebration is
a good thing.”


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About Tiffany Blanchette

Senior at SIUC majoring in photojournalism and zoology. Can be easily reached at or 618-536-3311 ext. 254.

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